Project Methodology: Lean Project Processes

It’s very easy for projects to become bogged down in mounds of paperwork and endless, senseless meetings.  Our project methodology gives our  graduates a lean methodology for planning, gathering  requirements, project methodologybuilding a schedule, estimating, dealing with changes, closing a project and adding it to the archives.  Overly academic, ivory-tower approaches confuse people and waste valuable time.  That’s why we teach a lean project methodology that minimizes paperwork. A small project may have a plan that fills one side of one piece of paper.  This lean methodology also minimizes meetings. The project manager doesn’t use a “go around the room” staff meeting to find out how everyone is doing. He knows before going into the meeting.  His project plan contains data on the planned duration, cost and deliverables and the team members report their progress each week.  Everyone receives that data and the PM spends his time working with the team members who you are off track with their assignments. That is a key to the project methodology.

  • Project Initiation & Chartering  one of the key elements in our lean methodology is careful control over the initiation of projects. In this process, new project proposals must meet specific criteria for what they will deliver to be approved. Implementation of this process usually reduces the number of new projects started each year  by 30% or more. It definitely improves the business benefit yield from the portfolio of projects.
  • Defining Scope  in our lean project methodology, project scope is not a long windy narrative. Instead, we define the scope of the project with a measurable deliverable that the project must produce. An example project scope statement might be, “Reduce operating expenses by 17% per quarter.” The scope doesn’t tell us how to do this. It does define how the project’s success will be measured.
  • Project Planning  our project planning process is based on breaking down the scope into a network of measurable deliverables that support it. We continue to breakdown the deliverables until we reach the level of individual team member assignments. The result is series of “tasks” that specify what each team member must deliver and how it will be measured. As result, the team members know what’s expected of them before they start work on their tasks. Th planning process also includes risk analysis with specific strategies for mitigating the most significant risks.
  • Requirements gathering  this process often deteriorates into sessions that resemble people telling Santa what they want for Christmas. Our project methodology does not include what people want but what they must have to deliver what they are accountable for producing. It ensures there is a link between every requirement and its deliverable.
  • Work Breakdown Structure  our lean methodology produces very different work breakdown structures. They are not a monstrous “to do” list of tasks.  Instead our work breakdown structure is the basis for the whole schedule. It lays out business deliverables whose success is defined by a metric. The deliverable must be measurable. For example, a new payroll data entry screen might have a deliverable metric of “Payroll clerks can enter 70 payroll adjustments per hour.” That’s the deliverable the IT department must produce with the new payroll data entry screen. The entire work breakdown structure is based on measurable deliverables so there is never any question what has to be delivered. There also is no question about its success or failure.
  • Procurement and Bids  in many projects, human or material resources must be acquired from outside the organization. Establishing the selection criteria and the process for weighting each vender’s proposal is key. Our lean methodology reduces the paperwork without allowing organizational politics to affect the selection of vendors.
  • Project Management Office  our lean project methodology includes a project management office function. We offer a number of different project office models that organizations may use when their portfolio of projects reaches a certain size. Each is tailored to a different organizational culture and competitive industry environment.
  • Lessons learned this process gives the organization valuable information on how to do projects better and achieve results more efficiently. Unfortunately, lessons learned meetings often deteriorate into finger-pointing and turf wars between departments. Our lean methodology produces information about what went well and what did not. It also provides the project archives with data on how much work each task actually took and what it cost. This is the foundation for project managers to do analogous estimating on future projects that are similar.